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This image was taken at an outdoor styled shoot and our model, Catherine, did a great job posing for this image. I decided to play with the veil and accessories by creating this sort of ‘crown’ since the theme of the shoot was “a muse that inspires every artist”, and Catherine portrayed exactly this. We chose to do the shoot at a villa in Tuscany and this particular shot was made using a rather tall hedge as a background. These hedges are incredibly beautiful here in Italy and fortunately, the villa had them in its garden.

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How did you direct your subject(s)?

Since Catherine is a professional model, I didn’t need to give her too many directions – though I did ask her to try to interpret the dream of an artist, her muse, the one who inspires art. Making the model close her eyes allowed me to underline this aspect, emphasizing the ecstasy of the complete abandonment of the body and mind.

What did you say?

Breathe, look down and close your eyes. Try and imagine that you are the embodiment of an artist’s muse.

How did you compose your image?

I kept the composition centered with one of the ‘rule of third’ lines running right across the gaze of the model. This puts the eyes, which are the home of the emotions in our model, right in a balanced point of the image. In my photos, I often try and find symmetry and centrality of the subject. And in this particular case, I tried to do just that. I also chose to frame this quite close up since I wanted the model’s expressions to really be felt by the viewer.

How and what did you focus on?

Since I wanted the focus of the image to be on the emotions of the model, and the eyes are the ‘window to the soul’, I chose to put my focus on the eyes of the model. Very simply with a single focus point & with autofocus.


How did you use the light in your image?

During the shoot, the sky was covered with clouds and this worked out perfectly for me as it creates this really soft and even lighting while also creating some gentle shadows. There were no sharp or harsh contrasts. The light was coming from just behind the subject but due to the clouds, it didn’t quite matter.

What was the gear & settings you used?

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sony A390


Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 GM





Shutter Speed






White Balance


How did you edit your image & what did you use?

I usually like to give my images a kind of ‘theatrical/cinematic’ and timeless feel. In this image, I used the Meridian preset, although lately I find myself going back to editing in Camera Raw. My style is moody and I love to underexpose when shooting. For this image, I adjusted the exposures as well as the curves and contrasts to create this darker mood and feel.

Software Used

Adobe Lightroom Classic

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What challenges did you face?

It looked like it may rain at any point but this actually worked out to my advantage as I really love the moodiness of the ‘storm’.

How did you solve them?

Make the most of every situation, I always avoid putting myself in direct sunlight, but rather in the shade to always keep my style consistent.

Can you share any last thoughts or advice?

I always try and use the weather to my advantage, and to experiment with light that isn’t always what we are used to. I also don’t worry too much about weather forecasts and rather embrace things as they are.

Martina Ruffini

Shooting since


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The passion for art was born with me and before my approach to photography I draw for many years. At 18 I bought my first analogue camera and since I like to get to the depths of things I worked hard to learn the development techniques in my homemade darkroom. At the beginning I concentrated on portrait photography, also attending at courses and seminars. Shortly I found myself setting up my first photo exhibitions, in order to become, afterwards a full-time wedding professional.

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